Housing for Children Looked After and Care Leavers

Please read in conjunction with Children Looked After Joining the Housing Needs Register.


In September 2016, a link to 'Children Looked After Joining the Housing Needs Register' was added to this chapter (above).

This chapter is currently under review.

1. Purpose of the Protocol

  1. This protocol is to support improvement in the safety and welfare of vulnerable adults and young people over the age of 16 who are placed across Local Authority boundaries in unregulated settings;
  2. The Children Act 1989 defines a child or young person as a person under eighteen years old. This protocol relates to young people aged 16-18 years. Young people under sixteen years who require accommodation should not be placed in houses of multi-occupancy;
  3. Under the Children Act 2004 Local Authorities have a responsibility for making arrangements to ensure their normal functions are discharged having regard to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. This includes all types of services involving adults, children and families;
  4. The House of Lords ruling May 2009 (R v London Borough of Southwark 2009) made clear that, where assessment under Section 17(6) Children Act 1989 has concluded a young person under the age of 18 years is in need of services which include the need for accommodation, then the placement of that young person in a House in Multiple Occupancy is not appropriate;
  5. Under 'No Secrets' guidance, local authorities have the responsibility to work with partners in taking action where abuse to vulnerable adults is suspected;
  6. The Housing Act 1996 sets out the responsibility of Local Authorities when securing accommodation outside their district, specifically, they shall give notice to the local housing authority in whose district the accommodation is situated.

    The notice shall state:
    • The name of the young person;
    • The number and description of other persons who normally reside with him as a member of his family or might reasonably be expected to reside with him;
    • The address of the accommodation;
    • The date on which the accommodation was made available to him;
    • Which function under Part VII the authority was discharging in securing that the accommodation is available for occupation;
    • The notice must be in writing and must be given before the end of the period of 14 days beginning with the day on which the accommodation was made available to the applicant.

2. Definitions

  1. The Housing Act 2004 defines Houses in Multiple Occupation as:
    • An entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet;
    • A house which has been converted entirely into bed-sits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities;
    • A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self contained  (i.e. the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households;
    • A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies;
    • In order to be a HMO the property must be used as the tenants' only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants;
    • It is a legal requirement to licence all HMO's that are of three or more storeys or five or more households. 
  2. This protocol relates to arrangements across the Eastern Region Local Authorities, when placing young people and / or vulnerable adults in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). It supplements the Housing Act requirements as above and ensures proper compliance with the Children Act and 'No Secrets' guidance. This protocol currently relates to those HMOs where there is a legal requirement to licence.

3. Protocol

  1. Each Local Authority agrees to take the following action: when placing a young person / vulnerable adult in multi occupancy accommodation the placing authority will:
    • Have completed an assessment which has identified the needs of the young person / vulnerable adult;
    • Identify what risks may surround that young person / vulnerable adult (e.g. excessive alcohol / drug use, criminal activity, risk of sexual exploitation, mental ill-health, associates who may pose a risk to others);
    • Complete a care plan for young person / vulnerable adult which will include how the needs of the young person / vulnerable adult will be met within placement and what action will be taken to support the young person / adult in managing any risks identified through assessment;
    • Complete written agreement between the young person / vulnerable adult, provider and local authority to include:
      • Who to contact in the event of an emergency;
      • Who to contact if an appropriate adult is needed (it is not appropriate for the manager of an establishment to act as an appropriate adult for a young person during police interview);
      • What support (if any) the provider will make available to the young person / vulnerable adult;
      • What support will be provided by the social worker and / or other professionals;
      • A specified term of notice to be negotiated by mutual agreement between the provider and the placing authority;
      • An agreement that a young person will not be moved without the knowledge and agreement of the placing authority;
      • Arrangements for review;
      • Provision of letter to the host local authority confirming the above and notifying the host authority of the arrangement, together with a contact person.
  2. Each local authority, LSCP and SVAB will put in place monitoring arrangements to ensure HMO providers housing 16-18 year olds and / or vulnerable adults in their area:
    • Comply with local Child Protection procedures;
    • Comply with local Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Guidelines;
    • Ensure an enhanced DBS Disclosure is obtained for all paid / unpaid staff working on premises, including volunteers;
    • Ensure all contractors on premises are supervised;
    • Have a Child Protection policy in place in accordance with local child protection procedures;
    • Have a whistle-blowing policy in place; 
    • Ensure all staff working on premises have completed, as a minimum requirement, Local Safeguarding Children Partnership Basic Awareness Training;
    • Ensure all staff are familiar with guidance 'What to do if you're worried a child is being abused';
    • Ensure all staff have attended Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Awareness Training (offered free of charge by the host authority);
    • Demonstrate regard for the Mental Capacity Act 2005;

4. Houses in Multiple Occupancy

  1. Hertfordshire is committed to working to improve the safety and welfare of vulnerable adults and young people over the age of 16 who are placed across local authority boundaries in unregulated settings. The Houses in Multiple Occupancy Protocol provides guidance as to roles and responsibilities of Hertfordshire staff when unregulated accommodation is used to house young people.

5. Housing Application Procedure for Looked After Children and Care Leavers

  1. Introduction
    1. Social worker/personal advisor to complete housing application form with young person at approx aged 16 years;
    2. Collect proof of ID and address from young person;
    3. Send form, proof of ID, address (photocopies acceptable) and supporting letter to Accommodation Manager;
    4. When young person is ready for independent accommodation, social worker/personal advisor to complete move on form and attach pathway plan and risk assessment. Send to Accommodation Manager.
  2. Application Forms
    1. Housing Application Procedure for looked after young people and care leavers aged over 16 years.

      All housing application forms for young people will need to be sent to:

      Abi Cope, Accommodation Manager, Independence Support Service.
      Contact details -
      Independence Support Service, Apsley 2, Brindley Way, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP3 9BF
      Telephone no - 01442 454385
      Comnet no - 84385
      Mobile - 07787 170890;
    2. This Housing Needs Register application procedure, aims to improve the process of placing looked after young people and/or care leavers onto their originating local authority, housing needs register (HNR) and to help plan for their future accommodation needs. This is in line with the 'Joint housing protocol for 16/17yrs olds, care leavers and intentionally homeless families between CSF and housing departments'.
  3. Housing Application Process
    1. All care leavers that are 'looked after young people', eligible or relevant children, must be placed on their originating and host local authority's HNR. Care leavers who are qualifying children should also be placed onto the HNR but they may not be granted any additional priority points/band;
    2. The young person is to be placed on the register as soon after their 16th Birthday as possible - the target being within 3 months. Once on the register they will be granted care leaver priority need status by the District/Borough Council once ready for independent accommodation;
    3. Please note the only exception to this is East Herts and they cannot apply until 17yrs - if you have a East Herts Case please contact the Accommodation Manager as we still need to notify East Herts Council, housing department;
    4. Children, Schools and Families and the housing departments agree that it is much better to place a young person in accommodation in a planned way and avoid using temporary accommodation. Housing departments require sufficient information to properly assess a young person's needs. This should include all relevant history and any relevant risk factors, that may affect where a young person is housed and into what type of accommodation.

6. Originating Housing Authority

  1. A care leaver will generally only be given priority by a local authority housing department for Social Housing if they have a local connection within that housing department area;
  2. If a 'looked after' young person was placed in accommodation by Children, Schools and Families. (i.e. residential accommodation, foster placement, supported lodgings, semi-independent accommodation) in an area other than the housing department area that they came into care from, they would not have a local connection. Being placed in an area by Children, Schools and Families does not constitute a local connection. The young person is generally only eligible for housing in the area in which they originally came into care. This is in accordance with the Housing Act 1996, Homelessness Act 2002 and the Code of Guidance;
  3. A local connection can be created by family members living in a given area, however the housing department may not award their care leaver priority status. Family members are defined as immediate family which are parents or siblings;
  4. Local Authorities can in special circumstances take into consideration, grandparents, step-parents, grandchildren, aunts or uncles but are not obliged. This is only if the family members have lived in the area for 5 years or more and the young person would like to be near to them;
  5. Employment - If a young person has gained permanent full time (16 hours or more) employment the young person will therefore have a local connection with the area;
  6. However if there are other special circumstances that you think should be considered by the housing department, with respect to the young person being housed in an area where a local connection does not exist, the Accommodation Manager will liaise with the respective housing managers about such individual cases.

7. Information required for Housing Application Forms

  1. Please remember when sending Housing Applications to the Accommodation Manager the following information must be included, as the form cannot be processed without, this would then slow the process down for the young person.
    • Forms of Identification: This can include a birth certificate, driving license, passport, work ID card, HM forces ID card with photo, EU ID card, proof of age card with photo, approved immigration status documents. NB - Dacorum Borough Council needs a passport photograph attached to application form and Proof of National Insurance number;
    • Proof of Residence in Local Authorities Area.This can include utility bills, (Gas, Electric, Telephone, Water, Council Tax) mobile phone bills, bank/credit card statement, driving license (unless already used for ID);
    • Supporting Letter. A letter must be included with the form confirming the young person's legal care leaver status i.e. Relevant, Eligible, Former Relevant as per the Children's Act 1989 amended by the Leaving Care Act 2000. This is necessary as otherwise the housing department will not know that the young person should be considered in priority need as per the Housing Act 1989 as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002. It is also important to confirm that a young person had a previous local connection with that area, confirming where the young person originally lived before being taken into care. This is necessary as otherwise the originating housing authority will not be clear that there is any connection with the area.See Standard letter which can be adapted for young person depending on young person's age and leaving care status. (SEE attached forms). Please note that this letter can also be used as a form of identification for a young person.
  2. All care leavers aged between 18 -21 and 24 years (if in Full Time Education) will be awarded priority as if they were homeless. If aged over 21 and not in Full Time Education they will not necessarily be assisted by the housing department unless they find them to be vulnerable because they have been looked after;
  3. If care leavers are over 21 years please confirm in writing but clearly stating that they are no longer a former relevant child;
  4. Once the form has been received by the Accommodation Manager, it will be processed and checked for all documentation. This will then be recorded in a database of all care leavers aged 16 plus and sent onto the relevant Housing department;
  5. The Accommodation Manager will maintain a database in order to track the progress of all young people applying to join the housing register. The Accommodation Manager will then check that the young person is placed on the register and note the renewal date;
  6. The database will be a useful tool to assist Local Authority Housing departments to plan accommodation which is required every year, as the data can be used to predict the number of care leavers who will need accommodation.

8. More Information

  1. The majority of local authorities housing departments' require an applicant to re-register on the anniversary (yearly) of applying for housing. Generally a reminder letter is sent to the applicant, if the applicant fails to re-register, their application will be cancelled. To avoid this happening, the Accommodation Manager will liaise with the nominated contact in the housing department and record the date of the re-registration. The Accommodation Manager will then send a reminder to the young person's social worker regarding re-registration;
  2. The Independent Support Service Teams (Hertfordshire Leaving Care Service) will assess the young persons 'readiness' for independent accommodation, if deemed able, the Accommodation Manager will contact the housing department and advise that the young person will be ready for accommodation within 6 months. (At aged approx 17 and a half);
  3. A standard form - 'move on form' will be sent to the housing department which can be obtained from the Accommodation Manager. (See attached forms) At this stage any relevant information that has not previously been provided should be given to the Housing Office;
  4. The young person's application will then be made active and prioritised. If a young person is assessed as requiring supported accommodation such as a Foyer, YMCA, Hightown Praetorian, Aldwyck etc then the worker should contact the Accommodation Manager to check on the referral procedures;
  5. It has been agreed that at this stage a copy of the Pathway Plan and risk assessment will be sent to the Housing department alongside the 'move on form' confirming they are ready for accommodation. It is at this stage that the young person will receive their priority points/band;
  6. A recent change in the allocation processes has now seen most Housing departments in Herts operating a Choice Based Lettings system (CBL). This now means that instead of a direct offer of accommodation from the HNR, the young person will 'bid' on available properties in order to receive an offer of accommodation.

9. Useful Contacts

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council - Sian Chambers/Margaret Hargreaves
Council Offices, Housing Needs 51 Bridge Road East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. AL8 1JR
Tel - 01707 357000

Stevenage Homes - Celia Lord/Sukhdev Sidhu
Housing Needs, Daneshill House, Danestrete, Stevenage, Herts SG1 1HN
Tel - 01438 242666

North Herts District Council - Karen Freimanis
Council Offices, Housing Needs, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City, Herts. SG6 3JF
Tel - 01462 474000

Three Rivers District Council- Patsy Gilbert/Shireen Aboobaker
Housing Allocations Team, Three Rivers House, Northway, Rickmansworth. Herts.WD3 1RL
Tel - 01923 776611

Watford Borough Council - Terri Fountain/Laura Marland
Housing Needs, Town Hall, Watford, Herts. WD17 3EX
Tel - 01923 226400

St Albans City and District Council - Victoria Brett/Susan Hughes
The District Council Offices, St Peters Street, St Albans, Herts. AL1 3JE
Tel - 01727 866100

Dacorum Borough Council - Teresa Wood/Natasha Brathwaite
Housing Services, Civic Centre, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. HP1 1HH
Tel - 01442 228000

Broxbourne Borough Council - Andrew Wilkes/Katie Le Mann Jennifer Mckenzie
Housing Needs Section, Borough Offices, Bishops College, Churchgate. Cheshunt, Herts. EN8 9XD
Tel - 01992 785505

East Herts District Council - Claire Bennett/Elizabeth Foy
Housing Options Team, Housing and Community Planning, Wallfields, Pegs lane, Hertford, Herts. SG13 8EQ
Tel - 01279 655261

Hertsmere Borough Council - Kim Harwood/Maggie Benson, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 1WA
Tel - 0208 207 7420